Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Love Affair on a Rocky Road

The Marietta Register newspaper in the State of Georgia reports today that America's love affair with the "freedom of automobile ownership" is now coming with an expensive price tag of several thousands of dollars each year for the average family, with $100 fill-ups, insurance, car payments, repairs, and registration fees.

Here in Langley, I have a neighbour that is a baliff. Checking his vehicle auction page today, there are at least 20 vehicles available immediately, and he has sold hundreds over the past few weeks. Business is booming for him as he scrambles to open more offices and hire more staff.

Its interesting to see that that the local council leaders in Georgia are taking a wait and see attitude, failing to see the massive economic benefit that some 60-70 US cities in the midst of streetcar and light rail development projects are seeing. It all appears to be a question of who will pay, and in the USA local officials want that to be the Feds. Another parallel to our home here in BC.

We long for some political leaders with a good dose of leadership, vision, and guts to get this job started. I do believe that we have a few here in Langley. I wonder if their colleagues will put politics aside for the sake of the people and allow light rail transit to take root here. If there was the political willpower, we already have the bright people in place to make this vision a reality.

Last night I was preparing for our South Fraser OnTrax meeting tomorrow night and I printed out a biography for Paul Cordeiro, Manager of Transportation Engineering for the Township of Langley. Not only is Paul is accomplished civil engineer, but he also possesses a master's degee in transportation engineering. Guys like Paul and other Township staff could realy put legs to light rail with some motivated leadership behind it. As a former planner, I know that Mayor Kurt Alberts is giving thought to the development potential of light rail, and is continually discussing transportation and funding options with his regional counterparts. As we pointed out the other day, all of the Township council members have publically endorsed light rail options in one form or another, but a few still haggle over who will pay, without seeing the 15 to 20 times the investment costs for LRT, that will come back to them in new development. And this is not counting the huge economic and environmental benefits that we would receive.

As The Province newspaper said the other day, its not rocket science!

No comments: